When I was growing up divorce was rare, not so rare as to be unheard of, but rare enough that we all “knew” that it was wrong. I say “knew” because the feelings we had then was of a hushed sense of wrongness, of understanding there was something unintended yet dynamically painful. Before the era of unilateral divorce, marriages had to be attacked from both sides, that is, both parties had to agree (in the sense of conferring consent) even if not on a personal, emotional or spiritual level. When divorce was one sided it was the aggrieved partner, the one who discovered an affair, or other horrific wrong to justify the divorce. Divorce is not the same today.
The ease with which a rebellious partner attains to a divorce is astounding. Michelle Davis (author; ‘The Divorce Remedy’) wrote, “My experience is that divorce is almost always unilateral. It’s not a democracy. One person gets to decide the fate of not only the marriage but the family,” (Emphasis added). Yet, children are most often the victims of one or both parents’ desire to dissolve a natural relationship in an unnatural way. Chip Ingram (author; ‘Love, Sex and Lasting Relationships’) wrote, “They kept asking me to choose who I wanted to stay with. Why couldn’t they choose to stay together?”
Even if a divorced spouse later remarries and finds some measure happiness; the pain of the divorce has lasting consequences as children’s lives fall apart (Elizabeth Marquardt; ‘The Emotional Hurdles of Living through a Divorce’; FamilyLife.com Broadcast 10/24/06). In contrast to the children of divorce, children whose parents remain married received benefits (advantages) which extend into their adult lives (Linda Wait, Maggie Gallagher; ‘The Case for Marriage’).
And those benefits do not only accrue to the children, married partners in the long-term “live longer, healthier lives with higher levels of emotional well-being and lower rates of mental illness and emotional distress. (They) make more money than otherwise similar singles and build more wealth and experience – than do cohabitating couples with similar income levels.” (Maggie Gallagher, ‘The Institute for Marriage and Public Policy’).
Somewhere in searching for answers to why my ex wanted to become my ex I discovered the statement that couples who struggled through the bad times five years later were far happier together than those who divorced and remarried. I know that though I’ve remarried and am happier to be with someone whose life is intertwined with my own, who loves the L0rd as much as do I (love Him more than she loves me), there undercurrent of unease, which often occurs when one or both partners bring the past into their present relationship – is gone. I’ve learned, over time, to trust that my wife love G-d and is willing to do all she is able to continue in love. This is how marriage ought to be. Should it be otherwise? No, but it can change, as only the submission to the L-rd is able.
In the years after I was forcibly divorced (against my will) I felt so alone, it was as if I’d made a mistake, a horrible mistake and if I worked hard enough or believed enough I could fix the error and restore what was lost. As I said above, in finally coming to terms with my ex’s decision to abandon our family, I found someone better in so many ways, someone who trusts more in a loving G-d than in a flawed human decision making paradigm. I finally understand it isn’t about being with someone in a guaranteed relationship, one safe from divorce, it is about being in a right relationship with G-d and G-d who safeguards marriage.
I couldn’t make her want to stay, and I understand now my decision to not fight her was a way of saying I would not have fought. My life with my wife (today) is far richer in so many ways. For one thing we understood that being married to someone who loves G-d more than self or your spouse matters more than anything else. For another we met pursuing similar goals; we met in a post-graduate doctoral program, we were both school teachers (we’re retired now). We both have a Hispanic background: my mother was born in Mexico, my father was raised in New Mexico and spoke Spanish while growing up. Her parents were missionaries in Mexico, where she was born, who learned Spanish in the field and lived in Venezuela where my wife learned Spanish as a first language. WhileI am not saying that these things alone make for a good marriage, it is common knowledge that similar backgrounds make for an easier path in marriage.
Ultimately, what I am saying is this, “…if there is even one-half of an ounce of friendliness left in your marriage, take each other by the hand, look at each other’s eyes and then remember of the love that brought you together in the first place! Let each other know, somehow, that you are needed, loved and wanted!” (Guy M. Bradley, West Point, Utah, Deseret News, January 11, 2001, Letters to the Editor, A-10).
Dr. Ramón de Torres
Edited: June 26, 2020